It was almost over for Danielle Fishel before it even began!
The actress famously played Topanga Lawrence on the long-running ABC sitcom Boy Meets World through her childhood and into her life as a young adult. But on the the day of her VERY FIRST rehearsal on set, she nearly got fired! And this was after replacing another actress who had already been pulled from the role! Oof…
Fishel recounted the story of her near-dismissal this week on Pod Meets World. That’s the new podcast she’s hosting with fellow former BMW stars, in which they re-watch old episodes and dissect the behind-the-scenes story and on-set drama years later.
During the latest podcast ep, Danielle explained how she was on set for her first-ever rehearsal with creator Michael Jacobs, director David Trainer, and the rest of the cast and crew. She was just 12 years old, and nervous about messing up. So, she recalled how she was talking too quickly while delivering her lines — a practice Jacobs apparently really didn’t like.
As she remembered, Jacobs lit into her IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY on her very first day:
“Michael starts off the notes by saying, ‘Danielle, I’m going to give you your notes all at one time, at the end. And I’m going to give everyone else their notes now, because if I made everyone sit here through all of the notes I had for you, we would all be here for hours and no one would ever get to go home. So you’re just going to wait for the end.’”
Again, Fishel had just replaced another actress who was initially tapped to play Topanga but got canned before anything aired. So she already felt like she was on thin ice. Danielle explained more, adding:
“From that moment on, my eyes welled up because I’m now in front of everybody. All the producers, all the writers, all the cast and all eyes are on me for a second.”
Jacobs then went over all of Danielle’s notes with the young actress and her mom.
Before the conversation ended, she recalls now, the show creator allegedly gave her a stern warning about the future:
“What I know specifically was said is, ‘All I know is, if you don’t come back tomorrow doing this entirely differently, you are also not going to be here,’ referencing the girl I had replaced.”
Again, she’s only 12 at this point!!!
The next day on set, Danielle made changes, and she received praise for her performance. Confident that she’d turned things around, the actress explained how it went from there on out:
“There were no more threats of being fired, I had done the work and I had shown him that I was worthy. It totally sets up that you go after that every week. You’re chasing the dragon of Michael approval.”
Will Friedle, who played Eric Matthews on the show’s long run, jumped in at that point.
Speaking up after Danielle on the new podcast, Friedle recalled how that behavior was apparently pretty common:
“He set it up in such a way that when he gives you the standing ovation, it’s like the sun is shining on you. It had nothing to do with your acting. It was just, ‘make Michael [Jacobs] feel good.’”
Goodness. Sounds a little bit toxic to us!!!
It sounded toxic to the director, too. Trainer — who directed the first two seasons of Boy Meets World — had been a guest on the new pod this week when Danielle told that story. He got upset thinking about how difficult it was for her, and for himself. Trainer recalled how he “hated” the job at the time due to its unpredictability.
The longtime director also added:
“I’m really pissed. It’s enough to make me want to sign off of this podcast. I don’t want to be associated with anything that guy is associated with. This is just not how you do things. I’m glad it became a hit, but this is disgusting.”
Per E! News, Jacobs hasn’t publicly responded to Danielle’s story yet. Still, what a story!!
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